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Hurricane Hunter from Kansas goes inside the eye of Dorian

Published: Sep. 6, 2019 at 10:19 PM CDT
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The warnings issued ahead of Dorian's landfall in the United States are informed by a lot of different factors, and some of those are determined by flying manned aircraft directly into the storm.

Captain Garrett Black grew up in Hutchinson before getting his degree in meteorology and joining the Air Force.

Now, he flies into hurricanes, like he did this week with Dorian, to send back vital information about the storm in hopes it will save lives.

"We take that aircraft and actually penetrate the storm at 10,000 feet, so we're right in the convection of those thunderstorms, so we have to fly through the eyewall so we can get into the eye and sample and find the exact center," says Capt. Black.

He grew up fascinated by tornadoes. Now, he and his crew fly into hurricanes. One look at his Twitter account @GBlackwx22 and you'll exactly what he saw on Tuesday's flight into the storm.

"We're worried about the here and now to help the Hurricane Center with watches and warnings and to figure out how much storm surges are going to be and how far out from the eye the max winds radius is," says Black.

Flying through the hurricane as it approached the Bahamas on Sunday, Black says his crew knew the devastation was inevitable.

"Watching it over a six-hour span, the pressure dropped so rapidly which means the storm is intensifying very significantly and we were reporting winds that ended up being 185 mph by the time it made landfall and that is absolutely catastrophic," he says.

While the images and reports coming out of the Bahamas are catastrophic, Black says he hopes that the work he and his fellow Airmen are doing will save more lives in the path of massive storms.

"The reason why we go out and do this dangerous mission is to get that data to ultimately inform people of the dangers so they can heed these," says Black. "That's why we go out and risk these missions to keep people safe."